Ever since 2012, the US started encouraging its companies to reduce or eliminate the use of Huawei products, especially its networking equipment. The main reason for this was the US Federal Bureau of Investigation suspecting that such equipment can be used for spying on other countries and this can make the US a potential target. Last year, the Pentagon called for a ban on the sale of all Huawei products on the US military bases. In 2019, the FBI has warned educational institutes, especially the research centers to be aware and upgrade its security measures.
Huawei is the no.1 telecom supplier globally
On October 4, the FBI released a pamphlet that showed that as of March 2018, there are more than 1.4 million students and professors who are a part of the academic environment.
With the cyber threat looming today, especially the universities and colleges involved in any kind of government or private research projects might be in grave danger.
Every year, the US suffers a loss of $225-$600 billion due to piracy and theft of trade secrets.
Last year, the University of Illinois received an email from the FBI asking if they feel that Huawei has stolen any of their intellectual property. The university declined straightaway. Since that, universities all across the 50 states have received similar emails from the FBI. They have been campaigning everywhere, making the universities aware that they are a potential target.
Oklahoma State University and the University of Colorado Boulder have been specifically questioned about some of its professors. Although this has come with a bit of dissent from the universities which feel that this may damage the reputation of their professors and scientists, they are still willing to meet the FBI to discuss further possibilities.
The US Justice Department and the FBI feel that this threat is not merely a theory.
If we talk about the last two months or so, three different people working for the Chinese government or organizations have been arrested. They were involved with trade secrets, universities and research universities.
However, there are times when the FBI was proved wrong. A Temple University professor, Xiaoxing Xi, was falsely accused by the FBI for sharing designs for some heating devices. Xi is now on his way to court to sue the bureau.
Nevertheless, the universities who received the mails from the FBI about potential risks of Huawei stealing their data have banned the usage of the phone completely on their campus. Huawei was also apprehended for stealing various trade secrets from the US this year.